Is Verizon throttling Netflix video speeds? We don't know for sure, but that's what some people think could be happening.
We've talked a lot about net neutrality on this site and this story provides an example of why it is so important. Users on Reddit recently reported that they noticed data caps when using a Netflix-based speed testing app that weren't present in other apps. This prompted them to wonder whether or not Verizon were throttling their internet speeds.
In the comments that followed, users reported lower than average speed when using Netflix or YouTube. Many of those in the thread said that they noticed their speed was capped at 10 megabits-per-second while watching videos on either of the sites. However, they noted that their speeds were much faster when using other websites. To test the Netflix speeds, most users connected to a speed-testing service called Fast.com, which uses Netflix's servers and provides an accurate measure of Netflix's speeds. Those users then reported that they received a faster-speed rating when using a non-Netflix testing site.
Some users also noted that their connections speed improved when they connected to sites through a VPN.
Verizon has reached out to Arstechnica to provide some clarification regarding the above findings.
"We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network. The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected," a Verizon spokesperson said.
Verizon's statement regarding the customer video experience is a bit misleading. While it is true that HD video can be streamed at that speed, that doesn't change the fact that Verizon did place data caps on customers when they visited certain websites. In this particular case, it's less about the effect and more about the principle behind what happened. Beyond that, this could very well be a violation of net neutrality rules since, regardless of the effect, placing data caps on certain sites is a violation of the FCC's rules. ISPs such as Verizon are required to treat all websites equally.
Verizon might be able to get away with imposing limits on all streaming videos, but to single out Netflix and YouTube is simply not allowed
For its part, Netflix has said it is not throttling any user's speeds and isn't facing any technical problems with Fast.com.